To say that 2007 did not go as planned would be an understatement. My aunt called in March to say that she was a suitable kidney donor, and we would have the transplant surgery in April. Finally! My miracle was delivered! In July, my husband was injured in Afghanistan. So we were on post in Washington, D.C., until mid-2008. They treated us both very well, even though Jeff was their primary concern. Don’t believe anything negative you hear about Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), which has moved to Bethesda Naval Base.
My labs were fine a year after the transplant, and I felt as if my energy had returned. So in 2009, I embraced pet sitting full-time after learning the legal and insurance aspects of the job, as well as pet care. I had a meaningful and gratifying career. As the business grew, I got busier pet sitting and running the business. But I kept my doctor’s appointments and got notes like this one from the local nephrologists: 3/21/11 – Overall kidney is functioning well. Creatine 1.2 – 1.3 range is OK.
Stress contributes to disease returning
So I continued a break-neck pace in the business, finding much satisfaction in love from the pets and adoration of the parents. I walked a LOT and was busy. So in my mind, I was successful. In reality, I was running full-speed away from the knowledge that the kidney would not last forever and that I should manage physical and emotional stress and the unfulfilling personal relationships I couldn’t fix. In three years, I was “too busy” to take more than a few days off, and I couldn’t find part-time employees who were committed enough to give up family, holidays, nights and weekends to look after other people’s animals. But it filled a void and provided a darn good excuse for not having a social life.
EPO, procedures can support declining kidneys
At the height of my business, I was going to get EPO shots (Say ē-po) and then was able to give them to myself with permission from my insurance company. Giving myself shots was difficult, but it let me have uninterrupted time with the business. With a couple of employees and more clients than I could manage, I still went for regular labs in late 2012. The local docs referred me back to the transplant center that had performed my transplant. I saw them for annual follow-ups. My transplanted kidney lasted about six years.
One of the local doctors also recommended an endometrial ablation to stop my period. That way, the red blood cells I was making with the help of the EPO shot would not be wasted in my monthly menstrual cycle. After several appointments, this came to fruition in mid-April. But within weeks, I was in the hospital for a completely different reason.
Next week, we’ll look into my second experience with the transplant center.
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